On April 14, 2022, the Whittier College Bias Response Team sent out an email to the student body stating that there was a racist hate speech “target[ing] Black students and members of the Athenian Society.” The racist language was written “between Harris and Wanberg Halls” in chalk, and reported by members of the Athenian Society on April 13, 2022. The writing has been removed, and the culprit remains unknown. This was the first of three bias reports that were sent out in the past two weeks — two of which specifically targeted Black people.

This is not the first time a bias report has gone out to the Whittier College community this school year. In November of last semester, a bias report of an antisemitic attack went out to the campus community. That attack was deemed not a hate crime.

The Whittier College Bias Incident Reporting page characterizes hate speech as “a term for speech intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against a group of people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability; hate speech includes written as well as oral communication. An important difference to recognize is that a hate crime does not always involve hate speech and hate speech in and of itself is not always a hate crime.” This attack was classified as hate speech by the College in the email sent out to the student body.

Also in response to the attack on campus, co-President of the Black Student Association, Ethan Pewu, stated that, “I feel that the attack was ignorant and disgusting. [Although] it has not affected how safe I feel on campus . . . I worry it could have impacted other Black students’ feelings on campus — especially the underclassmen. I think the school creating spaces for Black students and faculty is great progress in the right direction.” At this time, the President of the Athenian Society does not have a comment on this attack.

On April 21, 2022, an email was sent out to the students living in residential dorms that said Residential Life was “made aware of an incident that occurred in Stauffer Hall. It was reported that a comment was written of an indiviual’s white board that is derogatory and inappropriate towards sexual assualt survivors.” Whittier College condemns these actions — and if students have any more information in regards to the attack, they should contact Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities Emmy Passer at epasser@whittier.edu. The Quaker Campus will continue to report on this attack.

On April 25, 2022, a third bias report was sent out to the Whittier College community stating that the Bias Response Team received a report “indicating that a racist and derogatory word — a term targeting African-American and Black individuals — was written on the arm of one of the Turner Courtyard patio chairs.” The Bias Response Team deemed this attack as a hate crime and a crime, and have removed the chair. The team will be reviewing the campus security camera footage to find the culprit. The email goes on to say: “This is the second such report that has been made within two weeks’ time. This hateful act and blatant disrespect for our African American and Black community does not espouse the values we as educators and community members place on ensuring a learning environment that supports students, faculty, and staff well-being. The College strives to ensure that the campus community is a safe place for all members. As such, these acts of hate and racism are unacceptable and will not be tolerated on this campus.” The Quaker Campus will continue to provide more information on the attack as well.

Whittier College states that they are “committed to identifying, addressing, and eliminating all forms of racism and ethnic biases. Acts of bigotry and hate will not go unchallenged on this campus. Further, the Bias Response Team is committed to tracking all incidents of bias that occur at the College.” With this commitment, the College has provided a number of resources in order to provide support to the communities affected by these racial attacks. In response to the incident, a community space entitled “Community Space for all African American and Black Identifying Faculty, Staff, and Students” on Wednesday, April 20, 2022 invited all Black community members affected by this attack to meet at the Dezember House. Alongside the talk, students can contact the office of the C.A.R.E. (Community, Affirmation, Resilience, and Empowerment) Program through its director, Marysol Mendoza, at mmendoz2@whittier.edu or 562.907.5118. The C.A.R.E team is a congregation of faculty, staff  and student resident advisors who “enhance community safety and student well-being.” Students can also contact the Counseling Center for mental health emergencies at 562.907.4211 or counselingcentre@whittier.edu. The College also provides a program offered by graduate level counselors from the Student Counseling Center called Let’s Talk. This discussion is an “informal, confidential consultation for Whittier College students.” Let’s Talk occurs both in-person and virtually on Mondays, 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.; Tuesdays, 10:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.; Wednesdays, 3:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Thursdays, 1:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.; and Fridays, 10:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Additionally, the Dean of Students Office562.907.4233 — and the Office of Equity and Inclusion — oei@whittier.edu  — can provide students with support.

The College promises “ongoing student training,” and recognizes that “it is the ongoing work of the Division of Student Life, in partnership with the Racial Justice and Equity Task Force, to increase racial justice, and equity training for all students, student leaders, and student employees on campus. Current efforts include the online Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training provided to all first-year students and online anti-bias workshop training for all student employees.”

Using the resources provided to deconstruct one’s own biases prevents attacks like these from happening. If you have any questions in regards to the multiple attacks you can contact the Vice President and Dean of Students Deanna Merino-Contino at dmerinoc@whittier.edu, or the Title IX Coordinator Lafayette Baker, J.D at lbaker@whittier.edu.

Author

  • Emily Henderson is the Assistant News Editor for the Quaker Campus. She is a second-year English Creative Writing major with a Film Studies minor. When trying to relax from work and school, she likes to read epic fantasy novels, watch cartoons, go to Disneyland, and drink unhealthy amounts of tea.

Emily Henderson is the Assistant News Editor for the Quaker Campus. She is a second-year English Creative Writing major with a Film Studies minor. When trying to relax from work and school, she likes to read epic fantasy novels, watch cartoons, go to Disneyland, and drink unhealthy amounts of tea.

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